After Montreal NAFTA Talks, Optimism Mixed With Uncertainty
Despite the mixed signals regarding NAFTA discussions, the U.S.'s trade partners in Mexico and Canada were optimistic about the trade agreement's future. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who was at the center of the controversy surrounding sugar exports to the U.S., said it was the first time in which all three parties involved felt that progress had been made, per Reuters.
Before representatives from the three nations met in Montreal for this round of talks, experts were unsure how the trade agreement would fare, after President Trump made remarks that hinted at scrapping the deal altogether, calling it a "bad joke" on Twitter on Jan. 18.
....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
A few days later, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland agreed with Trump's general sentiment that the deal needed to be brought into the 21st century.
"The president is right in saying that in North America, we have to make a much better effort to integrate value production in the North American countries," Guajardo said, according to Reuters.
Freeland said, regarding the talks in Montreal, that she and her team were "prepared for every different possible outcome."
During this last round of talks, the three nations focused on language regarding anti-corruption, according to the BBC.
This was the sixth meeting for the three countries to discuss NAFTA, and comes at a time crucial to Mexico especially, as it gears up for its election in July. It also comes shortly after Canada filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, looking to protect billions of dollars in exports to the U.S. that it believes are threatened by the prolonged NAFTA talks and uncertainty due to the president's remarks regarding leaving.
That's not the first time that's happened, though. According to The Washington Post, this was Canada's 19th case against the U.S.
So, while all parties are optimistic after the latest round of talks, there's still the uncertainty of the trade agreement's future, especially as one party could legally exit after giving six months notice.
The next round of talks will take place in Mexico City on Feb. 26.